Sunday, 31 October 2010

White Night

Brighton was more than usually  the place to be on Saturday evening. People of all ages seemed to have turned out in record numbers, many in fancy dress, to enjoy the mild, windless evening and enter into the spirit of the occasion.

The Lanes Ghost Walk had a huge following: table tennis was being played in New Road: a large queue snaked around the Pavilion Gardens waiting to enter the Royal Pavilion: and the Dome Foyer Bar, with atmosphere transformed by continually changing coloured lighting, was doing a roaring trade.




Dream Machine - BANG at Marlborough House



Urban Enlightenment - Ben Gold, Jubilee Square




In the Epiphany Dome in Kensington Street people were invited to record their personal life-changing epiphanies  . . . . . .








 . . .which were then projected on to the wall of an adjacent buildings.




These were just a few of the 60 separate events or activities. I was told by an eye-witness that at 6.30 am this morning people were still dancing at the Bandstand. That counts as a successful evening I think.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Last days of the West Pier

The death of the West Pier was a long, drawn-out affair but this must have been one of the last postcards to illustrate it in full use with people strolling up and down and enjoying the sun, sea air and views of the historic Brighton & Hove seafront. Sussex Heights behind the Metropole was finished in 1966, and the rhenish helm-topped clock tower of the Clifton Road Congregational Church can just be seen on the horizon on the centre-line of the pier. This church, designed by Thomas Simpson, was demolished in 1972. The pier was finally closed to the public in 1975.

What is particularly remarkable about this picture is the apparently good condition of the pier just a few years before closure. It was at this time owned by AVP Industries who took over the West Pier Company in 1965 and was also responsible for Sussex Heights and the decapitation of the Metropole. It is ironic that for a small fraction of the millions spent on these projects and a less negative attitude from the Council the Pier might have been saved and become as important to Brighton's unique architectural heritage as the Royal Pavilion.

Station 'Greenway' update

A conservation area, the Greenway, (see earlier post) which runs from the New England railway bridge to Brighton Station, is designed to be an “attractive green space” in the middle of the city, and was approved as part of the New England Quarter masterplan as a public right of way. However it has remained blocked off at the northern end while the Council and Network Rail have been negotiating the public access to  the Grade II listed bridge across New England Road.

A council spokesman said: “We’re still tying up the legal ends with Network Rail, finalising a licence whereby they grant the public access across their bridge and land.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: ” We have been working with Brighton and Hove City Council and other parties in relation to the Northern Greenway scheme. We are satisfied all outstanding issues are being resolved and we are now in a position to move forward.”

From the the Prestonville Postblog, latest comment on: New England Greenway - Still going nowhere.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Preston Park Parking update

Since the earlier Brighton Bits posts here and here an ePetition signed by 2200 people has been presented to the City Council who has now decided to set up a working party. The Argus report and many lively comments can be read here.

Crazy allotment rules

Letter to the Argus,  26th October 2010:-


"The newly issued Brighton and Hove Allotment rules prevent allotment tenants composting their household compost bin and green waste on their allotment.
Rule 7.2 states: “Waste from external sources, including green waste, may not be deposited on the allotment or any other part of the site. Abuse will result in immediate tenancy termination and prosecution.”
Hazardous and polluting waste, yes, I couldn’t agree more. But a ban on green waste and kitchen potato peelings? On an allotment?"
Fran Torr, Dover Road, Brighton

The Council is very keen to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, as are Council tax-payers, but has not so far set up separate "green waste" collections to this end. Yet allotment-holders are surely most likely to be those with small or non-existent gardens who are unable to compost vegetable waste at home. Is there really any objection to them conveying this to their allotment compost bin, where it would form only a small proportion of the total vegetable waste produced by their allotment?
No doubt the Council is anxious to avoid abuse, but the rules immediately following 7.2  seem specifically addressed to this point, viz:-

"7.3  The bringing on site and use of polluting materials such as tyres, asbestos, glass and carpet shall be treated as illegal disposal of waste and will result in immediate notification and referral for prosecution.

7.4  The bringing on site and use of rubble and hardcore for paths and other forms of construction is prohibited. The bringing on site of tyres, plastic or metal materials such as shelving, angle iron or bath 
tubs - as well as other timber and plastic materials not relating to crop production is prohibited. Bringing such materials on site will result in a notice and possible termination."


The rules do seem to have been drafted with insufficient forethought. It is difficult to see why importing half a bucket of potato peelings could theoretically result in "immediate tenancy termination and prosecution"!  While bringing an unlimited (apparently)  amount of tyres, plastic, old shelving & bath tubs will only produce "a notice and possible termination". 

Monday, 25 October 2010

Brunswick Street West - Then & Now

'Then' being only a few years ago in 2003, but probably largely unaltered for the previous 70 years:-

 Now:- 
The sawn-off telegraph pole just  to the right of the new houses is, in the top picture, hidden under a massive growth of ivy.

Provided one can cope with 'vertical living', the new houses look not unattractive, certainly intriguing, and the windows are cleverly designed to broaden  the occupants' view so obviating any 'shut-in' feeling from the narrowness of the street. 

Saturday, 23 October 2010

St. Nicholas Churchyard 100 years ago

According to the Brighton Mortiquarian public health legislation enacted to curtail cholera and other epidemic diseases forbad burial in St Nicholas from around 1854, and this was followed in the 1870's by a clearance of monuments. This clearance must presumably have been rather selective, since in the early 1900's, as this postcard (postmarked 1906) shows, the churchyard was still well crammed. 

The low stature of the trees in this picture also remind one that Brighton was originally a very treeless town (Trees in Brighton - an earlier opinion) and it was not until the later half of the 19th. century that tree-planting began in earnest. By the 1940's the tree-cover in the churchyard and along its boundary was quite extensive. Some trees and shrubs were removed during the second clearance in the 1950's leaving the churchyard more like it is today.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Changing face of Kingsway. Update 2.

When properties have been left to decay to such an extent they have a negative impact on neighbours and the surrounding area,  Councils can use Section 215 notices requiring owners to rectify the situation. Such a notice  has now been served in respect of the  3 properties referred to in an earlier Brighton Bits post, "The Changing face of Kingsway". This  notice requires Stranmede Ltd, the owners, to repair the semi detached properties and remove clutter from the gardens.  No.148 on the right, although appearing unoccupied is not included.



A notice has also been served on Maria Holliday in relation to Lawnscroft, 155 Kingsway. The owner had agreed to demolish the former nursing home by the end of September and begin building on the site where there is planning permission for a new 30-
bed nursing home. However, no action has been taken.


The owners have 6 months to complete the works.

Read Council press release.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

How to recycle in Brighton


Armed with a simple video camera, Brighton's recycling operatives Derek, Andy, Lewis and Adrian set about making a short film which explains simply and clearly how to recycle, from how to store the different materials to where to place the box for collection. The film was made during the crew’s regular round, so didn’t cost the council a penny to produce.

Wel done chaps!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Roedean marks 125 years.

A very pleasant situation on a warm summer's day. . .
Roedean School was founded in 1884 and moved to its present cliff-top premises in 1898.
Unseen from the A259 coast road is a cloistered quad of the type associated with Oxbridge colleges:-
The architect of Roedean, Sir John Simpson, was a relative of local architect Thomas Simpson, designer of Connaught School and other schools around Brighton & Hove.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Vandalised trees . . a rant

One of the useless specimens of humanity, which Brighton seems to have more than its fair share of, has decapitated two of the saplings planted, relatively recently, in front of St. Peter's Church.



I believe this is at least the second attempt by the arboricultural department to get trees established here.



This is by way of  relieving my feelings. I have no great expectation that the mindless individuals responsible even know how to read let alone regularly surf the internet.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Sustainable Brighton

The annual Sustainable Cities Index, produced by Forum for the Future ranks Britain’s 20 largest cities according to social, economic and environmental performance. To do this it measures 13 indicators in three broad baskets:
  • Environmental impact – the city’s impact in terms of resource use and pollution;
  • Quality of life – what the city is like for people to live in;
  • Future-proofing – how well the city is preparing for a sustainable future
Brighton from being top in 2007 is still hanging on in the top 3 notwithstanding that, on environmental performance, it has the worst ecological footprint of any city, as the chart below shows.

Ecological footprint is the impact of food and other consumer goods, housing, transport (including air travel), and private and public services on the environment (using 2006 data). The impact is measured by the amount of global land needed to sustain each resident of the local authority. The ecological footprint takes into account the impact of products produced in other areas or countries but consumed in the local authority while at the same time it excludes the impact of goods, services and energy manufactured or generated in the local authority and exported to other countries of the world.  Brighton has an Eco Footprint score of only 1, whereas Hull, bottom in the overall ranking has an eco score of 15. It seems therefore that Brighton is the victim of its own economic success and despite improvements in the energy efficiency of its housing, its high-consumption lifestyle is making a disproportionate demand on the global environment.

Biodiversity  is measured by the percentage of local nature sites that have undergone conservation management during the five-year period 2004/5 – 2009/10. It may be that this measure will already be improving as a result of the Council's efforts to return the Wild Park to original downland and the introduction of grazing to other areas of downland bordering the City.

Friday, 15 October 2010

New England House

In this photo New England House (NEH) is the shabby, industrial tower complex, to the right of St. Bartholomew's and obscuring the view of the Victorian viaduct. (Click on the photo for an enlarged view). Prior to the 1960's when NEH was built, these two listed monuments to Victorian genius could be seen in splendid juxtaposition from this viewpoint on Albion Hill.

It is gratifying that the newly-developed station site to the left of the church, although criticised, seems at this distance to be quite sympathetic, and does not degrade the view to anywhere near the same extent.   One might have hoped that NEH, nearing the end of its economic life would soon be demolished, thus allowing a search for a better architectural solution for the site.

However it now seems the City Council has other ideas for NEH and is proposing renovation that will extend its life for another 40 years. Worse news is that it is also considering developing above the London Road Car Park, indentifiable in this photo by the low-rise, red-brick block of flats between St. Bartholomew's and NEH.

Another tall block even nearer to St. Bartholomew's would further diminish its unique scenic impact.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Spot the tower

Tarner Park in evening light seen, looking east, from shadowy North Road. The Tarner Tower can just be made out near centre of picture.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

It's "go" for Pavilion Gardens ice rink

The City Council Planning Committee today (October 13, 2010) gave three months permission for a temporary ice rink, with space for up to 200 skaters, in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Gardens. It is planned to open on November 13th and will provide a 700 sq m outdoor rink – roughly the size of three tennis courts. Also included is a 200-seat bar and restaurant, run by award-winning Due South,  toilets and floodlights. A special viewing area will enable the public to watch the skating, which will not be visible from the road.

Press release
Brighton Bits article

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A dog's breakfast

First impressions suggest that this mess is a result of carelessness or inexpertise on the part of the architect or builder of the colonnade to the left, but this would be wrong. This is in fact the older of the two sections seen here. It was built in 1823 at the same level of the then existing colonnade to the right (built 1807) outside the Theatre Royal. No doubt, at that time, the dangling bit of arch came to some kind of sensible termination on one of the Theatre Royal's pillars. However the 1807 colonnade was demolished in 1894 and rebuilt to a higher level with imposing corinthian columns and entablature; this evidently with complete disregard for its neighbour. Both sections are grade II listed.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Motortrike Sunday

It seemed to be motortrike Sunday today. They were streaming into Brighton early this morning and here are three very smart machines later parked at the Crown in Cootham. They look to be ideal transport in fine weather and the riders were certainly lucky today.

Congratulations to the Brighton Society website

It was announced at the Civic Voice AGM in Peterborough yesterday that the Brighton Society website has come out top of the Civic Voice nominated websites.

More details to follow.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Pool Valley house restored

Fifty years ago the ground floor of 8 Pool Valley was occupied by a watchmaker of long-standing and the upper floors were residential. It became unoccupied in 1995 and then taken over by squatters with the inevitable rapid deterioration in its condition.  In 2004 the bay windows (never a strong point in early Victorian houses) became dangerous and had to be completely removed and at the same time the front of the property was boarded up to prevent further incursions.

This was the situation up to a relatively few months ago, but now, thanks to the efforts of the Council's Conservation and Empty Properties Departments it has been completely restored with the splendid result pictured here. For the full story see the Council's press release. It is reassuring to know that the Council is not entirely powerless in these cases of property neglect.

It is nice to see that the advertising panels one each side of the second bay and the associated lamp brackets have been retained. Perhaps one day soon they will be brought back into use, even if it turns out to be for yet another eating place.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Grand Junction Road. Then & Now

Then (pre-1893):-
"Junction" refers to the joining up of the east end of King's Road with Marine Parade.  Up to 1829 these were only connected by a path running between the cliff edge and the seafront buildings. Due to erosion by the sea this became impassable to wheeled traffic and in 1829-30 Grand Junction Road was laid out on a newly-constructed seawall and extended seaward over a series of brick vaults. I have dated this postcard as pre-1893 because that is the year the large pavilion at the end of the West Pier was built and would have been visible had this view been later.

October 2010:-
The modern photo shows surprisingly little change but the kerbside railings are in fact a relatively recent restoration to the original design. The electric twin lanterns dating from the 1930's, apparently on the original posts, are an ornamental improvement on the original gas.  Clarendon Mansions, built in 1870 by Charles Brill of Brill's Baths, has lost some of the embellishments to its dormer windows but the balconettes which were missing a few years ago have been restored. The remains of the West Pier pavilion/theatre is just visible in the distance.

Some information from "The Encylcopaedia of Brighton". Timothy Carder

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

A view FROM the Chain Pier

Images of the Chain Pier, paintings, drawings, photographs, are plentiful, but it is strange that few Victorian visitors seem to have taken photos from on the pier itself. This makes the above view, before the days of picture postcards, very rare,

Near the centre of the picture is the clock tower of the Aquarium entrance, built 1872, but, conveniently, no sign of the Aquarium Terraces which were completed just two years later. This enables the photo to be confidently dated to about 1873. Construction of the Palace Pier was still two decades away. The Chain Pier was closed to the public in October 1896 and then wrecked in a storm two months later.

Wooden groynes, such as those seen here, were first built in 1723 and added to throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries. They seem now to have all been supplanted by concrete groynes, the first being built in 1867 opposite the bottom of East Street.*

*The Encyclopaedia of Brighton. Timothy Carder

Monday, 4 October 2010

59 North Street

A quirky narrow property amongst all the stucco shows the late victorian influence of the Arts & Craft  and Revivalist styles. The ground floor is now a hairdresser but 50 years ago it was occupied by a gown shop with the owner living upstairs. Something about the roof and guttering seems to make it particularly attractive to plant life. It is only a few years ago that it was completely renovated,  and anti-pigeon spikes added, yet already the roof 'garden' is regenerating.

The raised lettering on the side of no. 62 seems to exemplify the Victorian age; solid, made to last, no flashy paper posters for them. It is also historically interesting, reminding us that once hats were big business and it was money from their manufacture and supply that provided the Wagners' fortune and helped to build Brighton's famous churches.  Harts later merged with Hobbs the mens' outfitters and subsequently they were taken over by Cobleys.

This group of buildings are not listed but lie just within the Old Town Conservation area and so enjoy some  measure of protection.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Some navel-gazing

Brighton Bits is nudging 11,000 page views since June 1st this year. This was when blogger.com introduced this feature. I don't know how this statistic ranks in the world of blogging.

Top page views since 1st.June 2010 are:-

The Patcham Elms, 7 Jul 2010,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347 

The Sewing Machine Shop, 3 May 2010,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  160

Castle Square, Then & Now, 17 Sep 2010,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127

Cheltenham Place, 7 Sep 2010,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117

Caroline Lucas & collective worship, 23 Jul 2010,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114

The Patcham Elms. Brighton Bits broke the news on this, and trees are a subject that people feel strongly about. It is good to see so much new planting going on all around Brighton's streets.

The Sewing Machine Shop. I am at a loss to understand the interest this particular post generated (and is still generating). The window just caught my eye one morning as displaying a novel departure in window-dressing. It has obviously well fulfilled its purpose of generating publicity for All Saints.

Castle Square. This was puffed by Jo Wadsworth, Argus Web Editor. Thanks Jo.

Cheltenham Place. A report on the Council's news page was picked up by Brighton & Hove News and Brighton Bits provided a photo and some background.

Caroline Lucas & collective worship. Brighton having elected the first Green Party MP in the country, I like to hope there was much interest in her attitude to the divisive intrusion of religion into our education system. 

Into the Labyrinth


Often visitors to older burial grounds assume that the box tomb – coffin shaped as it can be – holds the body of the deceased. Sometimes they will even pry away at loose capstones trying to peek within. The bones are not within the stones however – but far below them.

Read complete article at:- The Brighton Mortiquarian.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Hanging on . . .

The last "real" shop in New Road. Fifty years ago Edwards & Hope was next door to Christ Church   down at the other end of the road,  and elsewhere there was a florist, a gun shop, a milliner, a confectioner, a paint manufacturer, an off-licence, a tobacconist, a baker and an art/antique dealer.

Today the road is almost entirely given over to the leisure industry; restaurants, bars and entertainment, and, with Edwards & Hope, the only properties still serving their original purpose seem to be the Theatre Royal, the Colonnade Bar and the Mash Tun, formerly the Apple Tree Cider Bar.

The photograph shows an attractive variety of bow windows and all these houses are listed. The colonnade to the left has been restored in recent years, that to the right is original. One hopes that one day they will be joined up.